Toddler's face immobilized by rare medical condition - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Toddler's face immobilized by rare medical condition

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A rare medical condition has robbed young Middle Tennessee boy of his ability to move his face, but with therapy, he has made great progress.

"He's all boy, into everything right now," said father Mitch Washer.

Like most little ones, Easton Washer is just as fascinated by books themselves as the stories they contain. But the 16-month-old has a very unique story of his own.

"His face wouldn't move when he was crying, right when he was born," Mitch Washer said.

Easton also couldn't close his eyes and was born with club feet.

Almost immediately, doctors determined he has a rare neurological disorder called Moebius Syndrome.

"Moebius is a condition that presents in children and prevents their eyes from moving and can't move facial muscles," said Dr. Kevin Ess, a pediatric neurologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "It's quite rare and something a pediatric neurologist may see only one, or two or three cases in their career."

The severity of mobeius can vary.

"We're extremely blessed in the fact that he can swallow, eat and chew. But as far as raising eyebrows, smiling or normal facial expressions, there is nothing they can do for that," Mitch Washer said.

Easton splits his days between play time and physical therapy.

Because he can't move his face, his parents can't tell certain things like if he's happy or sad, so they've learned a few other ways to communicate.

"He's been learning signs to eat, and other signs like 'more' and 'please,'" Mitch Washer said.

As for his walking, Easton has had three surgeries to help straighten out his feet. Most children with moebius will crawl and walk a bit later than their peers, but they eventually catch up.

Easton has made great progress since he started therapy, but some things may not change. For one, he may never be able to smile.

His dad says that doesn't keep him from brightening up the days of everyone in the room.

"They all smile from their hearts, and I think that's really special. And I think that's a gift that God has given us as a family," Mitch Washer said.

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